A chief product officer (CPO) is a C-level executive who is responsible for the strategy and execution of all product-related activities within an organization. A CPO’s responsibilities begin in the product innovation and vision stages, continue through the marketing campaign, and extend past the product’s release.
A CPO is a centralized procurement organization (or a central purchasing office or organization), and it’s pretty much what it sounds like: a single business unit designed to handle the bulk of a company’s procurement and arguably one of the best investments a business can make to consolidate spend and regain control.
The Chief Product Officer is a strategic leader, visionary, team supervisor, and advocate of an organization’s product (or products). The primary goal of the CPO is to lead and facilitate the creation of products that deliver value to both customers and the business. CPOs usually report to the CEO of the company.
Hiring at scale in tech for 2022
How do you hire en masse if you’re an SMB-sized Fintech company operating out of Atlanta, operating in a very competitive tech space? The Chief People Officer at Relay Payments has taken on that challenge with bells on, and she sat down with us to share her expertise.
As the company CPO, Amy Zimmerman’s in charge of hiring at scale at Relay Payments, a company in Atlanta, Georgia, that bills itself as an end-to-end payment solution for the logistics industry. The company’s been in existence for about three years and their 100-strong workforce is dispersed throughout the country and internationally – particularly in Ukraine where, Amy says, there are some very talented engineers.
And there’s a lot of work to be done yet. One of Amy’s core objectives going into 2022 is to maintain employee retention and engagement while at the same time triple the size of the business throughout the year. In the midst of all of that is keeping her team members – both current and future – motivated.
This means she says, “investing in all of our people to ensure that our culture is one that everybody’s super excited to be a part of and where they can grow their careers and do some of the best work of their lives and have a lot of fun in the process.” Doing that in a high-volume tech hiring space is a big undertaking – but she’s succeeding in the venture with a combination of expertise and street smarts.
On surviving the Big Quit
One of the significant developments of 2021 is, of course, the Great Resignation in the United States. Quit rates in the country are at an unprecedented high – reaching as high as 3% of the total working population with upwards of four million workers handing in their notice every month from July 2021 to November 2021.
Add to that an increasingly loud voice among younger workers about their disillusion with current work culture – so succinctly and blatantly on display in Reddit’s Antiwork community (which employers do need to pay attention to).
While obvious, this does signal a clear shift in the talent market. The onus is no longer on candidates to prove their worth to an employer; it’s now on the employer to position themselves as a place where people want to work. So, the question bears asking: what’s the employee value proposition that you can offer to make your job opportunity more attractive to a prospective employee?
For Amy, that value prop includes the working environment that you’re creating for them.
“I think the trend in 2022 is that people are going to look for companies that want to invest in them,” Amy says. “They’re going to look for companies that are flexible and aren’t going to require that they go into an office that they don’t want to go into, that will continue to afford them the flexibility that they’ve all grown to appreciate.”
And this isn’t going to end anytime soon. In fact, it marks a paradigm shift that employers need to adapt to. The Great Discontent report released in mid-2021 shows that flexible work options is high up the list of things that candidates value in a job, with 37.5% of US workers saying it’s one value proposition that would attract them to a new opportunity.
And SMBs that think about their employees first are the ones that’ll get ahead in the new talent game, says Amy.
“Companies are starting to realize how important engagement and investment is in their people,” she explains. “And those are the companies that are winning. So if you were to talk to those companies, they would probably report lower than market averages in terms of loss. And the reason is that they have the formula. They understand what they need to do.”
Amy does offer a caveat – this needs to be done in a way that supports both ends of the equation.
“[Employers] have to create a trusting environment and a supportive environment and still be able to drive productivity and all the things that are core and critical to the business in an effective way. So I realize that there’s a balancing act here. Employers want to be able to maximize the return from the people.”
There’s tangible proof of the ROI in all this. A 2017 Gallup study finds that highly engaged employees lead to a 17% increase in company productivity, and 24% less turnover in companies in high-turnover sectors.
Amy doubles down on that message – because of that clear ROI, companies need to put in the work to meet those new expectations in the talent market.
On investing in your workers
So how exactly do you ‘invest’ in your people? One area surging in popularity in 2022 is learning and development. In a survey commissioned by Workable and TalentLMS, 91% of tech workers want more learning opportunities from their current employers and 58% cited “skills development” as one criterion in choosing who they want to work for. It’s also a top motivator for tech employees.
And there are other ways to attract and engage employees – Amy shares a few more with us.
The value of connection
Amy stressed several times the importance of ensuring that workers feel connected to the company, whether that’s in a remote environment or otherwise.
“First of all, you have a full-time person dedicated to building the community, whether it’s different activities, whether it’s different communication strategies; there’s a number of different things that have to happen in order for that to be done effectively.”
We’re humans after all – the sense of community in the workplace can be a powerful thing.
The value of compensation
In the above-mentioned Great Discontent worker survey, 63% of workers cited salary as the reason why they’re looking elsewhere for a new job – and 62% say it’s the top factor in their decision to move to a new job.
It’s clear: companies must think about compensation in their value proposition.
“I do think you have to pay people competitively for the market, for their job. And so if you’re underpaying people and you’ve gotten away with it so far, you probably won’t continue to get away with it because people are starting to realize what they’re worth because of how hot the market is.”
This doesn’t mean giving raises across the board, she cautions. It’s more about fair market value.
“You have to pay people what the market suggests they’re worth or they’ll find a company that will.”
The value of people
Ultimately, whether it’s salary, learning & development, or connectivity, what people officers need to be thinking about is the ‘people’ factor. Employees are people too.
“If you’re treating people the way they want to be treated and they feel connected to your mission and connected to the business, they aren’t leaving. People that are leaving because they don’t feel connected. They don’t feel appreciated and they feel like there are better opportunities for them.”
When your employees take pride in what they do and feel part of a larger mission, that can be even more motivating than a straight-up higher salary – if you’re one SMB that may be challenged in your ability to offer higher wages, this can be a good workaround.
On proactively sourcing candidates
Now, let’s get to the other challenge of the Great Resignation – the dwindling number of candidates that we’re seeing in our Hiring Pulse data and elsewhere. When you take a month’s candidates per hire and compare it with the average CPH of the previous three months, there was a negative trend in that data every single month in 2021:
It’s doubly a challenge for companies like the one Amy works at when high-volume hiring is part of the overall company strategy.
“We don’t have much of an employer brand [because] the company’s only three years old. And so our lower candidate pipeline, I would attribute to not having a strong employer brand because we’re a new company.”
Relay Payment’s recruitment team
But that means the work is cut out for Relay Payment’s recruitment team, which has resorted to fresh strategies to bring new candidates into the hiring process under Amy’s leadership – at a high volume too.
“We get a lot of hires from referrals. I would say 30% of our hires in 2021 were referral-based,” Amy says, adding that they offer bonuses to team members who have successfully referred a candidate who ultimately gets hired.
The lack of a strong, recognizable employer brand is a challenge facing many SMBs, and Amy is well aware of that. She has ways to get around that.
“Our recruiters have had to work really hard to source candidates proactively because people don’t know us well enough to have a big application pipeline.”
So how do you do that? A ton of stuff, says Amy, who cites LinkedIn Recruiter – which she admits is expensive – as a tool to get the word out about a job, and external recruiters when they need to make a niche hire or when time is of the essence. Searching for candidates in Google using related keywords is also an effective strategy.
On growing the team that grows teams
But that’s a lot of work, of course. Amy has a solution for that: Hire more recruiters.
“I actually just doubled the size of my recruiting team in the last week,” she says. “She hired my first dedicated recruiter last summer. I hired a second recruiter in October  and I just hired two [in early January 2022] that will start [in February]. So I’ve gone from one recruiter to four in like eight months.”
The reason being – if you have more team members dedicated to the specific goals in recruitment, you’ll draw more applicants for your open roles.
“The volume of people that you’ve got building your brand and sourcing and building pipelines will also help generate an enormous amount of activity as compared to having fewer people.”
Anyone in sales and marketing will understand Amy’s thinking process here. If you want to see increased conversions (i.e. hires), you not only have to bring in the right kind of candidate via referrals and online search – you also have to bring in more candidates.
“For us, it’s about bigger pipelines. We want the bigger top of the funnel. So how do you invest to get your top of funnel big enough, such that if you have 90 of a specific type of role that you want to hire in a year? [This] is what we’re doing with our AE team. We’re going to add 90 AEs [in 2022].”
And even with the candidates-per-hire metric steadily dropping month over month in 2021 and 2022, any SMB worth their salt – including Relay Payments – will want to have a healthy selection of candidates for any given role. Amy is vividly aware of that.
However, if there is anything you think we are missing. Don’t hesitate to inform us by dropping your advice in the comment section.
Either way, let me know by leaving a comment below!
Read More: You can find more here https://www.poptalkz.com/.
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Smart Career Decisions Made Simple
This article will guide you through the process of simplifying smart career decisions, ensuring that each step is both manageable and impactful.
Understanding Your Goals
Before embarking on a career journey, take the time to understand your goals. Reflect on your personal and professional aspirations, considering both short-term and long-term objectives. This self-awareness lays the foundation for making informed decisions that align with your vision for the future.
A. Identifying Personal and Professional Aspirations
Understanding your personal and professional aspirations is the foundational step in crafting a meaningful and fulfilling career. Personal aspirations encompass your individual desires, values, and lifestyle preferences. They might include achieving work-life balance, making a positive impact on society, or pursuing creative endeavors.
On the other hand, professional aspirations focus on your career goals, the level of success you aim to achieve, and the impact you want to make in your chosen field. These could involve climbing the corporate ladder, becoming an industry expert, or even starting your own business.
To identify your aspirations, take time for self-reflection. Ask yourself what brings you joy, what values are important to you, and where you see yourself in the long run. By aligning your personal and professional aspirations, you lay the groundwork for a career that is not only successful but also personally fulfilling.
B. Evaluating Long-Term Career Objectives
Evaluating long-term career objectives is a strategic process that involves setting ambitious yet achievable goals for your professional journey. Long-term objectives provide a roadmap, guiding your career decisions and actions over an extended period.
Start by envisioning where you see yourself in five, ten, or even twenty years. Consider the skills you want to acquire, the positions you aim to hold, and the impact you wish to make in your industry. It’s essential to be both realistic and ambitious in defining these objectives, ensuring they stretch your capabilities while remaining achievable with dedication and effort.
Regularly reassess and adjust your long-term career objectives as your professional landscape evolves. This flexibility allows you to adapt to changing circumstances while staying focused on your overarching goals.
In today’s digital age, numerous self-assessment tools can aid in understanding your strengths, weaknesses, interests, and values. Leveraging these tools provides valuable insights that enhance your decision-making process. Embrace self-assessment as a tool for self-discovery and clarity.
A. Exploring the Use of Career Assessment Tools
Career assessment tools are invaluable resources for individuals navigating their professional paths. These tools come in various forms, including personality assessments, skills tests, and interest inventories. They provide objective insights into your strengths, weaknesses, preferences, and aptitudes.
By exploring these tools, you gain a comprehensive understanding of yourself, which forms the basis for informed career decisions. For instance, a personality assessment can reveal whether you thrive in collaborative or independent work environments, guiding your choice of professions. Skills tests can identify areas for improvement and development, directing your efforts towards acquiring valuable competencies.
Incorporate career assessment tools into your journey, treating them as allies in your quest for self-discovery and professional growth. Their insights will illuminate potential career paths that align with your unique attributes.
B. How Self-Assessment Enhances Decision-Making
Self-assessment is a powerful tool that enhances decision-making by bringing clarity and insight into your strengths, weaknesses, values, and goals. When faced with career decisions, self-assessment enables you to make choices that align with your authentic self.
Through self-assessment, you gain a deep understanding of your skills, allowing you to leverage them effectively in your career. It also highlights areas where improvement is needed, prompting intentional skill development.
Moreover, self-assessment fosters a sense of self-awareness that extends beyond tangible skills. It encompasses your values, interests, and motivations, providing a holistic view of what truly matters to you. This self-awareness serves as a compass, guiding you towards decisions that resonate with your authentic self.
Staying informed about current industry trends is essential. Conduct thorough research on potential career paths to identify emerging opportunities and challenges. A well-informed decision ensures that your career remains relevant and resilient in a dynamic job market.
A. The Significance of Understanding Current Industry Trends
Staying abreast of current industry trends is paramount for anyone aiming for sustained success in their career. Industries are dynamic, with trends evolving rapidly due to technological advancements, market shifts, and changing consumer behaviors.
Understanding these trends positions you as a proactive and informed professional. It allows you to anticipate changes, identify emerging opportunities, and adapt your skills and strategies accordingly. Whether it’s the adoption of new technologies, shifts in consumer preferences, or changes in regulatory landscapes, staying informed about industry trends ensures you remain relevant and competitive.
To stay ahead, regularly engage with industry publications, attend conferences, and participate in professional forums. This knowledge not only enhances your decision-making but also showcases your commitment to staying at the forefront of your field.
B. Conducting Comprehensive Research on Potential Career Paths
Before embarking on a new career path, conducting comprehensive research is essential for making informed decisions. This involves a thorough exploration of the specific roles, responsibilities, and requirements associated with potential careers.
Start by gathering information about the job market demand for the chosen career, the typical career trajectory, and the skills and qualifications needed. Seek insights from professionals already working in the field through informational interviews or networking events. Understanding the day-to-day realities of a particular career helps you assess whether it aligns with your interests, values, and long-term objectives.
Additionally, research potential employers, industry growth projections, and any challenges the industry may be facing. A well-informed decision at this stage can save you time and effort in the long run, ensuring you embark on a career path that suits both your aspirations and the realities of the job market.
Skill Analysis and Development
Assess your existing skill set and identify areas for improvement. Develop a strategic plan for skill enhancement, whether through formal education, workshops, or hands-on experience. Continuous skill development ensures you stay competitive and adaptable.
A. Assessing Existing Skills and Identifying Gaps
A crucial aspect of effective career planning is a candid assessment of your existing skills. Identify your strengths, weaknesses, and areas where improvement is needed. This self-awareness serves as the foundation for strategic career development.
Start by listing the skills you currently possess, both technical and soft skills. Then, compare this list with the skills demanded in your desired career path. Identify any gaps or areas where additional skills are required for success.
This process not only highlights the skills you can leverage but also guides your focus on skill development. It ensures that your efforts are directed towards acquiring the competencies most valued in your chosen field, enhancing your employability and setting you on a trajectory for success.
B. Strategies for Skill Development and Enhancement
Once you’ve identified skill gaps, it’s time to develop a strategic plan for enhancement. Consider a mix of formal education, workshops, certifications, and practical experience to build a well-rounded skill set.
Investigate courses or training programs that align with the specific skills needed for your chosen career. Seek mentorship or guidance from professionals who have excelled in those areas. Embrace opportunities for hands-on experience, as practical application often solidifies theoretical knowledge.
Additionally, staying abreast of industry advancements and continuously updating your skills ensures you remain competitive in a rapidly evolving job market. Commit to a lifelong learning mindset, where skill development becomes an ongoing journey rather than a one-time effort.
Networking and Mentorship
Building a strong professional network is invaluable. Seek mentorship from experienced individuals in your desired field. Their guidance can provide unique perspectives, insider knowledge, and a support system as you navigate your career journey.
A. Building a Strong Professional Network
Building a robust professional network is a cornerstone of career success. Networking opens doors to opportunities, facilitates knowledge exchange, and provides a support system throughout your career journey.
Attend industry events, join professional associations, and actively participate in online forums relevant to your field. Establish genuine connections with colleagues, peers, and industry leaders. Networking isn’t just about what others can do for you; it’s also about how you can contribute to the professional community.
Regularly engage with your network through informational interviews, mentorship relationships, and collaborative projects. A strong professional network not only broadens your access to job opportunities but also enriches your professional experience through diverse perspectives and insights.
B. The Role of Mentors in Shaping Career Decisions
Mentorship is a powerful catalyst for career growth and development. A mentor, with their wealth of experience and insights, can provide guidance, share valuable lessons, and help navigate the complexities of a chosen career path.
Seek mentors who have excelled in the areas you aspire to explore. Their guidance can range from offering career advice and helping you set realistic goals to providing constructive feedback on your professional journey.
Mentorship goes beyond just career guidance; it often involves personal development as well. Mentors can help you navigate challenges, build resilience, and instill a sense of confidence in your abilities. Their influence can be instrumental in shaping not just your career decisions but also your overall professional identity.
Education and Continuous Learning
Investing in education is a lifelong commitment. Whether through formal degrees, certifications, or online courses, prioritize continuous learning. An evolving skill set not only enhances your employability but also opens doors to new and exciting opportunities.
A. The Impact of Education on Career Choices
Education plays a pivotal role in shaping career choices, influencing not only the range of opportunities available but also the skills and knowledge needed for success. The level and type of education one pursues can significantly impact their career trajectory.
For many professions, a specific educational background is a prerequisite. Completing higher education, whether through a university degree or specialized training, opens doors to a broader array of career options. Furthermore, education provides a foundational understanding of industry-specific concepts, best practices, and theoretical frameworks.
In today’s competitive job market, employers often value candidates with relevant educational qualifications. It serves as an indicator of commitment, discipline, and a willingness to invest in one’s professional development. While education is not the sole determinant of success, it undoubtedly shapes the initial path and opportunities available in one’s career journey.
B. Emphasizing the Importance of Continuous Learning
In a rapidly evolving global landscape, the importance of continuous learning cannot be overstated. Regardless of your career stage, ongoing education ensures that you remain adaptable, informed, and equipped to navigate changes in your industry.
Continuous learning extends beyond formal education and includes staying updated on industry trends, attending workshops, participating in webinars, and engaging with professional development opportunities. It’s a proactive approach to acquiring new skills, deepening existing knowledge, and staying ahead in an ever-changing job market.
Embracing a mindset of continuous learning positions you as a dynamic professional, capable of evolving with the demands of your field. It also demonstrates to employers that you are committed to staying relevant and contributing meaningfully to your organization.
Exploring Diverse Opportunities
Consider exploring unconventional career paths. Embrace diversity in your choices, allowing for a broader range of possibilities. Sometimes, the most fulfilling careers are found outside the traditional norms.
A. Considering Unconventional Career Paths
Traditionally, career paths were often seen as linear progressions within established industries. However, the contemporary job market encourages individuals to consider unconventional career paths that may not follow the traditional norms.
Considering unconventional career paths involves thinking creatively about how your skills and passions can be applied in non-traditional settings. This might include entrepreneurship, freelancing, or exploring industries that may not be directly related to your initial field of study.
Unconventional career paths can offer unique opportunities for innovation, personal growth, and fulfillment. They allow individuals to break away from conventional constraints and chart a course that aligns more closely with their individual aspirations and values. Embracing an unconventional path requires a willingness to take calculated risks, resilience, and a spirit of exploration.
B. Benefits of Embracing Diversity in Career Choices
Embracing diversity in career choices is not only a reflection of societal inclusivity but also a strategic move for personal and professional enrichment. Diverse career choices contribute to a more well-rounded skill set, diverse perspectives, and increased adaptability.
Individuals who explore a variety of career paths gain a breadth of experience that can be advantageous in various situations. Exposure to different industries, work cultures, and job roles enhances problem-solving abilities and fosters creativity. It also promotes adaptability, making individuals more resilient in the face of changing career landscapes.
Moreover, embracing diversity in career choices contributes to personal fulfillment. It allows individuals to pursue passions, explore interests, and find meaning in their professional lives. By breaking away from conventional norms, one can create a career journey that aligns with their unique strengths and values.
Balancing Passion and Practicality
Finding a balance between passion and practicality is key. While pursuing your interests is essential, it’s equally crucial to consider financial stability. Strive for a career that aligns with your passion while providing the necessary resources for a comfortable life.
Adaptability in the Job Market
The job market is dynamic, and adaptability is a valuable skill. Stay informed about industry changes and be prepared to pivot when necessary. Adaptability ensures you remain resilient and relevant in the face of evolving professional landscapes.
Challenges are inevitable in any career. Embrace them as opportunities for growth and development. Overcoming obstacles builds resilience and determination, essential qualities for long-term success.
Maintaining a healthy work-life balance is crucial for overall well-being. Consider how your career choices align with your personal life goals. Strive for integration, where your career complements and enhances your life rather than overshadowing it.
Effective decision-making is a skill that can be honed. Utilize strategies such as weighing pros and cons, seeking advice from mentors, and considering long-term implications. Overcoming common decision-making challenges ensures you make choices aligned with your values and goals.
In conclusion, the key to a successful and fulfilling career lies in a thoughtful blend of education, continuous learning, and the courage to explore diverse and unconventional paths. By understanding industry trends, assessing skills, and building a strong network, individuals can navigate their professional journeys with resilience and adaptability.
Remember, a commitment to lifelong learning, an openness to unconventional opportunities, and a celebration of diverse career choices are the cornerstones of a dynamic and rewarding career. In a world of ever-evolving possibilities, embracing change and diversity ensures not just professional success, but a journey marked by personal growth and satisfaction.
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